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County Issue / Regular Metrolink Service to West County? : Given the overwhelming popularity of Metrolink weekend service to the recent Ventura County Fair, has the time come to expand Ventura County's commuter rail line west of Moorpark, or at least offer some regular weekend service to the west county? Five officials say yes--but note that money remains a key obstacle.

September 20, 1993

Charlotte Craven, Mayor of Camarillo

By all means, it's time. It's way past time for mass transit to hit the western county. I think the ridership is there. I think there are a lot of people from Camarillo who drive to Moorpark every day to use Metrolink and park their cars there, and I think more people would use it if it stopped at Camarillo daily. I've talked to many commuters who have expressed a desire for it to come here. In fact, they've asked me, 'When will it be coming to Camarillo daily as part of the regular service?' And I haven't been able to answer. But I do know that looking at the look on the children's faces as they got off Metrolink at the fair, that it was a wonderful experience for them. Some of them had never ridden on a train before, and experiences like that have to be provided for them on occasion if they are really ever going to understand the idea of mass transit and reducing the crowding on our freeways. We have requested information from the Transportation Commission on when service will be expanded to Camarillo and I don't believe we've gotten an answer, except that it'll be quite a while in the future."

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Frank Schillo, Thousand Oaks councilman, chairman of the county Transportation Commission

The answer is obviously a resounding yes. The people came in thousands to ride that train. Probably a lot of people went to the fair who would not have gone otherwise, and some people just rode it backward. They rode from Ventura to Camarillo or some other place along the line because it was available. So I think if we provide the service, people will ride it. There's going to be a cost associated with this, though, because we don't own the track between Moorpark and Ventura or any place farther north. So, it's going to cost us something. But the success was so apparent that we need to find ways to come up with those funds. A lot of money passes through the Ventura County Transportation Commission from various sources for various things, and we're a little behind in providing rail service in this county, and it's not because of any intent, it's because we have only been formed for a few years and have only been involved in rail service for the past few years. We need to say now that some of the money that is going for other rail concepts should be used for this particular thing."

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Susan Lacey, Ventura County supervisor, former chair of the county Transportation Commission

I think we've proven that if you have a fair at the other end of Metrolink, people are going to ride the Metrolink and enjoy it. We need to spend the next year taking a look at seeing how we can build and integrate transit services--that would be bus lines, Amtrak service and Metrolink--we need to look at everything that is happening and make sure we're cost-effective. And if the study shows that there is a need for further Metrolink service, and I think any study will show that there is, then we have to look at how to fund it. We have to have a way of funding it and we are the only urbanized county that does not have the half-cent sales tax. Most of the other counties use that to fund rail service, and without that, I have no idea how we increase service at this time. Having the concentration of the fair actually created extra monies, but that's not going to happen on an ongoing basis. Unfortunately, that's not how it works. I think there's a definite need and desire, we just have to find a way to pay for it."

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Ginger Gherardi, Executive director, county Transportation Commission

I think that we seriously have to look at the question of expanding the service. We are planning to do a countywide rail study this year that can look at the interest or the need to travel between the east and west county--(and) possibly as far as Santa Barbara. We also will look at the needs of residents from the Ventura, Oxnard and Camarillo areas for commuter service into Los Angeles. I think during this next year we will explore other special-event trains, possibly going north, and some weekend service going south. (But) any significant addition to commuter rail service in the county on a regular basis is going to require a half-cent sales tax, like every other urban county in the state is paying. It's likely that that issue will come before the voters again at some time in the future. There is a subsidy aspect to ongoing operations. We were able to cover our costs with this one-time event, but people were going to a specific activity. Normally you need to subsidize the operational cost of a commuter service. That's fairly expensive, and people will have to decide whether they want to pay for that kind of service."

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Bill Davis, Simi Valley councilman, county representative to Regional Rail Authority

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